As another hurricane season approaches, a quote often attributed to the noted humorist, satirist, lecturer, and writer, Mark Twain, comes to mind: "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Clearly, we have not mastered control of nature's climatic forces. Yet, approaches for managing the impacts of weather are available to us and are constantly evolving and improving.
In the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, local governments have stepped up their efforts to develop and implement more effective emergency management solutions, all of which rely on sophisticated mutual aid networks and partnerships, not only among first responders but throughout all functions of local government and across all phases of a disaster.
ICMA's members have been at the forefront of that discussion and have advocated for the development of a network approach to emergency management to answer the challenge of identifying the vast resource of experienced local government professionals that can be certified, trained, accessed, and deployed as part of teams that can respond to any of the four phases of disaster situations: preparation, response, recovery, and long-term restoration.
The need for improvement in emergency management is urgent as more and more people locate to disaster-prone areas (1) and the impacts of disasters continue to increase. (2) Long-term recovery needs are especially acute. After a disaster and after the rescue personnel have finished their tasks and the camera crews have left town, the difficult path to community restoration begins.
The restoration burden falls on the shoulders of local government personnel and often requires unsustainably long hours on the job for extended periods of time and demands …